Waterlily (Teratai in Bahasa Indonesia or Nymphaea alba in scientific name) is probably the best known species in the genus Nymphaea. The plant is known from lakes and ponds, where its big white flower (10-15 cm) is very glaring, by the way, it is the biggest flower on any wild-living plant in Sumatra, even Indonesia. Nymphaea alba is however very variable, and so several species are described.
Nymphaea alba is a plant, that best fits in garden-ponds, but it can, at least for a period of time be kept in the aquarium. It will as a start grow only submerged leaves, but soon it will grow more sturdy and then shoot leaves, which will float at the surface. Anyhow the plant can be kept under the water by immediately to cut away the floating leaves and at the same time reduce the plant. Yet the plant is still rather large, and need much free space. When kept in garden-ponds, the plant prefers growing in water-depths of about 50-100 cm. In Sumatra, Indonesia, it is often found in a fish pond in the garden.
Nymphaea alba differs from the species, that we normally grow in our tanks, by not having a root-bulb, but instead a horizontal rhizome, 10-50 mm thick. The plant exists in a variant with red flowers: Nymphaea alba f. Rosea. Besides, there are breeded a great number of artificial variants and hybrids with flowers in several colours, and also specimen with smaller growth, that better fit in smaller ponds.
Nymphaea alba‘s medicinal properties are valuable. The white water lily’s roots and flowers contain tan substances, glucose, ethereal oils, starch, nymph alkaloid. Therefore the extracts from the water lily roots have anti-inflammatory and calming effects.
Flowers infusion was a useful remedy against thirst and is now also a good remover of sleeplessness.For its content rich in starch (20%) and in glucose (6%), water lily’s rhysome is now consumed as nutriment. Also, the water lily seeds represent a good substitute for coffee.
As a trick, use the water lily roots to stronger the hairbreadth. Boil the Nymphaea alba’s roots in beer, and you’ll obtain a natural hair treatment. Apply it on hair, after shampoo, rinsing the hair with. Repeat the procedure once at two washings and your hair will look healthier and shinier.
The origin of name: The genus-name Nymphaea comes from ‘Nympha’ a name of a Greek goddess, the species-name alba (= white) comes from Latin and refers to the colour of the flower.